Part of the Contemporary Social Work Practice book series (Contemp. Social Work Practice)


Etiology is the study of causes and knowledge of the causal factors that contribute to the development and expression of addictive behaviors and dependence syndromes is important for social workers to understand. Taking a cell to society perspective this chapter examines the etiology of addiction as a result of a complex interplay between genes, neural substrates, social cognition, and proximal and distal environments. A number of genes have been found to play an important role in the causal nexus of addiction including GABRA2, OPRM1, OPRK1, OPRD1, CHRM2, and 5-HTT. Findings from brain scan studies indicate clear involvement of biochemical, structural, functional, and metabolic processes in the brain that have an influence on reward, decision-making, planning, and craving. Cognitive biases aid in maintaining addiction and some form of cognitive structuring is needed to disengage the repeated and habituated thoughts and behaviors associated with an addictive lifestyle. Proximal environmental factors such as peers, family, and neighborhoods that individuals have direct contact with have a role in the development, maintenance, and desistance from addiction. Distal environmental factors such as the causal impact of climate in the growing of drugs of abuse and the role of political-economic conditions in their availability are explored.


Antisocial Behavior Binge Drinking Antisocial Personality Disorder Sensation Seek Opium Poppy 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Saint Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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